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Russia, France Agree To Cooperate In The Fight Against ISIS

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) listens to French President Francois Hollande as they leave their news conference in Moscow on Thursday.
Alexander Zemlianichenko
Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) listens to French President Francois Hollande as they leave their news conference in Moscow on Thursday.

In the last leg of his diplomatic tour to win support for a coordinated effort against ISIS, French President Francois Hollande on Thursday secured a pledge of cooperation from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports for our Newscast unit:

"With both countries still reeling from ISIS-claimed attacks that killed hundreds of their citizens, Hollande traveled to Russia to ask President Vladimir Putin to focus his offensive against ISIS, and not other opposition groups to President Bashar al Assad.

"The two leaders agreed on three major points: to share intelligence, intensify and coordinate strikes and not to strike any group fighting ISIS. Obtaining the last point is seen as a victory for Hollande."

In the wake of the Nov. 13 terror attacks on Paris, which killed 130 people and injured hundreds of others, Hollande met separately with President Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

On Thursday, the Associated Press reported, Hollande said he and Putin "agreed on a very important issue: To strike the terrorists only, Daesh [the Islamic State's Arab acronym] and the jihadi groups only, and not to strike the forces and the groups that are fighting against the terrorists. And we are going to exchange some information about that: what can be struck, and what must not be struck."

The Washington Post notes that the two leaders found common ground after both their countries were targeted by ISIS. "Our positions are the same," Putin told Hollande. "That forces us to join our forces in fighting terrorists. We are prepared to work with you Mr. President."

But, the AP says, France and Russia remain at odds in their approach toward Assad. Hollande said the Syrian leader "does not have his place in Syria's future." Putin stressed that "the Syrian president's fate should be entirely in the hands of the Syrian people."

Tensions in the region increased even more on Tuesday, when Turkey downed a Russian military jet near the Syrian border. Turkey says audio from the cockpit supports its position that Turkish pilots repeatedly warned a Russian military plane that it was violating Turkish airspace before shooting it down.

Russia says it's preparing economic sanctions against Turkey. "Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the measures would be drafted within days, and could hit joint investment plans," the BBC reports.

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